Why is Williams' "The Red Wheelbarrow" one of the most important poems of this Modernist movement?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Let us remember that in his poetry William Carlos Williams was looking for a return to the barest essentials in poetry. In this way his form, style and diction is marked by its sparseness and its simplicity. Also, he chose to write about commonplace subjects. Thus it is that this poem only consists of sixteen words and takes its subject from a red wheelbarrow. In this poem, Williams appears to have selected ordinary objects to suggest that every single moment of life is significant, whether or not it actually seems unforgettable at the time. He further seems to suggest that the beauty fo the world is made up of such varied and profoundly ordinary objects. The vivid mention of the colour of the "red wheel barrow" that is "glazed with rain" lying next to the "white chickens" seems to create a specific moment in time that is emblazoned upon the brain of the poet. The way in which the poem does not use figurative language and further refuses to use the central image as a symbol shows how Williams was trying to challenge traditional assumptions about what a poem is and how it should be interpreted. This is why this poem is such an important example of Modernist poetry.

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